Erica Klarreich

Freelance Mathematics and Science Journalist

Berkeley, California

Erica Klarreich

My work has appeared in Quanta, Nature, New Scientist, Science News, and many other publications, and has been reprinted in the 2010, 2011, and 2016 volumes of "The Best Writing on Mathematics."


Moonshine Link Discovered for Pariah Symmetries

September 22, 2017 — In 1892, the mathematician Otto Hölder posed a question that would occupy the field for more than a century: Is it possible to make a periodic table of all finite symmetry? The answer, to which hundreds of mathematicians have contributed, is yes. But the taxonomy that emerged from this monumental effort has prompted both enlightenment and head scratching.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

‘Outsiders’ Crack 50-Year-Old Math Problem

November 24, 2015 — In 2008, Daniel Spielman told his Yale University colleague Gil Kalai about a computer science problem he was working on, concerning how to “sparsify” a network so that it has fewer connections between nodes but still preserves the essential features of the original network. Network sparsification has applications in data compression and efficient computation, but Spielman’s particular problem suggested something different to Kalai.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

For Persi Diaconis’ Next Magic Trick …

April 14, 2015 — Persi Diaconis shuffled and cut the deck of cards I’d brought for him, while I promised not to reveal his secrets. “I’m not going to give you the chance,” he retorted. In an empty conference room at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio, Texas, this January, he casually tossed the cards into four piles in a seemingly random motion — yet when he checked, each pile magically had an ace on top.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

Mathematicians Chase Moonshine’s Shadow

March 12, 2015 — In 1978, the mathematician John McKay noticed what seemed like an odd coincidence. He had been studying the different ways of representing the structure of a mysterious entity called the monster group, a gargantuan algebraic object that, mathematicians believed, captured a new kind of symmetry. Mathematicians weren’t sure that the monster group actually existed, but they knew that if it did exist, it acted in special ways in particular dimensions, the first two of which were 1 and 196,883.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

A Fluid New Path in Grand Math Challenge

February 24, 2014 — In Dr. Seuss’s book “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,” the Cat makes a stain he can’t clean up, so he calls upon the help of Little Cat A, a smaller, perfect replica of the Cat who has been hiding under the Cat’s hat. Little Cat A then calls forth Little Cat B, an even smaller replica hidden under Little Cat A’s hat.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

The Proof in the Quantum Pudding

August 21, 2013 — In early May, news reports gushed that a quantum computation device had for the first time outperformed classical computers, solving certain problems thousands of times faster. The media coverage sent ripples of excitement through the technology community. A full-on quantum computer, if ever built, would revolutionize large swathes of computer science, running many algorithms dramatically faster, including one that could crack most encryption protocols in use today.
Quanta Magazine Link to Story

Navigating Celestial Currents

April 16, 2005 — Math leads spacecraft on joy rides through the solar system.
Science News Link to Story

Take a Chance

December 4, 2004 — Scientists put randomness to work.
Science News Link to Story

The Shape of Space

November 8, 2003 — Have cosmologists glimpsed signs that the Universe is bounded?
Science News Link to Story

Knotty Calculations

February 22, 2003 — A quantum version of braids could lay the groundwork for tomorrow's computers.
Science News Link to Story

Discovery of Coupled Oscillation Put 17th-Century Scientist Ahead of his Time

October 1, 2002 — Theoretical physicists make their best discoveries while staring at the wall, but experimental physicists do so less often.
SIAM News Link to Story

Huygens's Clocks Revisited

August 16, 2002 — In 1665, the great Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock, wrote to the Royal Society of London to tell them of his discovery of an "odd kind of sympathy" between the pendulums of two clocks hung together. This effect remained a mystery for three and a half centuries, but the Royal Society has now published an explanation of the curious interaction Huygens observed, the result of a study done at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
American Scientist Link to Story


Erica Klarreich

I have been writing about mathematics and science for a popular audience for more than fifteen years. A mathematician before I became a full-time journalist, I try to convey the essence of complex mathematical ideas to non-mathematicians, and give them a sense of the beauty and depth of mathematics.

I also enjoy plunging into topics far from my mathematical roots, and have written about fields such as economics, computer science, medicine, and biology — often as these fields relate to mathematics, but often simply for their own sake.

As a freelance journalist based in Berkeley, California, I have written for many publications, including Nature, Quanta Magazine,, New Scientist, American Scientist,, Nautilus, and Science News, for which I was the mathematics correspondent for several years. I was also the Journalist in Residence at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. My work has been reprinted in the 2010, 2011, and 2016 volumes of "The Best Writing on Mathematics."

I am a graduate of the science writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and I have a Ph.D. in mathematics from Stony Brook University.

For the Fall 2016 semester, I am the Journalist in Residence at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact me at

Follow me on Twitter at @EricaKlarreich